A world without fashion trends is a world where everything and nothing of the fashion world stands out within each era. Why? Well, imagine yourself wearing a business suit alongside a woman who looked like she emerged from a 17th Century Victorian painting.
Wouldn’t that be quite the sight?
Speaking of sights, look how much fashion and its trends have evolved thus far. Nearly halfway through 2019 already so it’s only a matter of time before what’s hot today becomes what’s not tomorrow. Though western fashion has always been ahead of the curve in this regard, African fashion designers and, by extension, Nigerian designers have done anything but “imitating” styles. Why imitate trends when you can simply reinvent and spin it off the best way; the Naija way.
And what better medium for expressing these fashion trends than the versatile Ankara textile (or African wax prints). Watch out. If the big fashion houses are taking notes, so should you.
TREND 1: AFRICAN MAXI-DRESSES
You know you are wearing a maxi dress when its hemline keeps brushing your ankles while maintaining an overall fit without your figure suffocating.And if you know your styling stuff, you’re either sweeping attention from a room— or just practically sweeping its floor.
Thrice a resurfacing fashion trend from the 70s, 80s and somewhere around 2014 onwards, the maxi dress has been updated time and time again in a variety of fabrics but none so well done as the Ankara.
The Maxi dress is versatile for Nigerian ladies of various body types and sizes. More versatility means more freedom to experiment and express unique styles in various ways. From off-shoulder necklines, ruffled sleeves to mermaid-bottoms.
If properly fitted, the Maxi-dress’ free-flowing nature conceals the unflattering, as the bold Ankara patterns command attention. Bonus points if you accessorize yourself with bangles, purses, or bracelets.
TREND 2: OFF-SHOULDER AND COLD SHOULDER LOOKS
The Off-Shoulder look or the “Strapless dress” has always held a controversial place in fashion history. In the western world, it trended during the skin-covered conservative times of the 1950s and 1960s.
A true rebel of those times indeed.
Regardless of body type or size, the Off-Shoulder look bears the living image of a daring lady who takes pride in her attractive appeal without looking prudish. However, where the off-shoulder look allows for showing “extra” skin, it carries a risk of wardrobe malfunction, if secured improperly.
While its overall design has undergone several less scandalous iterations in recent times (see wedding dresses of 2012), it is a dress code usually deemed inappropriate for offices, religious and certain social functions across Nigeria. Nevertheless, this western-inspired style alongside the traditionalAnkara pattern allows you to look confident and feminine without drawing too much attention.
However, if having too little attention is too much attention for you, then soften that Off-Shoulder look with some ruffled sleeves and an appropriate headwear (or “gele”) with matching colors.
On the other hand, it is understandable if you’re not feeling too confident of your shoulders. So why bother being.daring when you can be a playful tease with your style? Why not strike the balance between demure and daring?
Any dress of this style leaves the sensitive shoulders bare to the chilly air with a teasing cutout design. Bold Ankara patterns with the Cold Shoulder look have become popular amongst Nigerian ladies who prefer donning casual, aso-ebi or lace styles.
Furthermore, the look gives an extra edge to those women who may feel self-conscious about their thin, slender shoulders. Or some women who shy from the seemingly high risk of wearing the Off-Shoulder.
Still, with the Cold-Shoulder look on their side, they can stand out whilst treading the line between daring and demure.
TREND 3: MERMAID-BOTTOM DRESSES
This is a classic fashion trend from the 80s, 90s and even the 2000s.
This style possesses a distinctive silhouette with a mermaid-like lower half. It swells with the flow of the hips, tapering around the knees and then flaring around the ankles in ruffles.
In recent times, such styles have become more common than the usual style culprits of the Sheath, the A-line and the Trumpet. And for good reason too. What Nigerian lady can resist a style of dress that gives an illusion of a full hourglass figure without resorting to the necessity of corsets or “waist trainers”.
As such, it has become a staple amongst Ankara and aso-ebi styles in recent years. Moreover, it has become a common sight in your average Nigerian weddings, naming ceremonies, church services, and anniversaries and so on.
In the hands of an experienced tailor, a mermaid-bottom dress designed with high-quality Ankara is a deadly tool in the Nigerian woman’s fashion arsenal. A knockout tool bound to leave onlookers hypnotized with her every swish of the ruffled “fins” around her ankles.
A dress to kill indeed.
TREND 4: HIGH-FASHION JUMPSUITS
Some swear this is the look of The Modern Woman.
Like the more feminine maxi dresses, high fashion jumpsuits trended the 60s and 70s with big-name Western fashion houses and celebrities. Yet unlike the maxi dresses, its more masculine silhouette is thought to be the cause of its brief rises and dips since then.
Of course, having evolved so many times with each resurfacing, it is unsurprising that eventually, the modernish jumpsuit met the traditional-looking Ankara print patterns. An appreciated match made in fashion heaven for most Nigerian ladies.
So versatile is this jumpsuit that it goes well as an ase-obi with friends or a standalone casual in different social functions. Furthermore, its design as a one-piece garment defined the idea of ease of wear and looking effortless. Added to those looks are accessories from simple bandanas to sunglasses and much more.
Some jumpsuits even allow you to have flared trousers, which gives the illusion of a dress. In other words, the jumpsuit brings a powerful look with femininity with every step.
In conclusion, where western fashion fabrics have relied on various fabrics to make bold fashion statements, the Ankara by itself grows strength to strength. Its vibrant colors and tribal-like patterns provide a medium for Nigerian designers to tell stories. Not just stories of the value of the self, but of one’s upbringing, family, friends, home, culture, and heritage.
Regardless of what trend may come today or tomorrow, live by these words:
“Fashion is what you buy. Style is what you do with it. Trend is what you make of it.”— Unknown.